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Posted on Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Crime Stoppers allows people to anonymously - and safely - help police solve crimes

By Rich Kinsey

They say, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” It is in the eyes, where humans first make contact with each other.

It is hard for law-abiding citizens to understand, but there are areas, even in Ann Arbor, where police officers are seen as intruders and the enemy. At major crime scenes in those areas, the officers canvassing for someone who saw what happened will be met by a sea of angry eyes and the agreed upon statement, “Nobody saw nuthin’!”

In the crowd, however, there will always be at least one person who looks at the police officer with softened eyes, then looks at the ground once the officer tries to establish eye contact. The softer eyes may look up once more to make sure the officer saw them, but they will say nothing. That is the person who saw what happened, but will not say a word with a group around.

That witness wants to tell the officer what happened in order to clean up the neighborhood, but they fear for their safety. That person is scared to talk to the police, because long after the cops are gone that person still has to live in the neighborhood. Getting those witness statements, when the cops cannot, is what Crime Stoppers is all about.

Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization dedicated “to empower people to make their neighborhoods, schools and businesses safer through the anonymous reporting of crime.” The key feature here is complete and total anonymity for the tipster.

Citizens with information about major crimes can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (1-800-773-2587). The calls will be answered in a call center in Canada. The anonymous tipster will speak to an operator on a phone line that has no caller I.D. and is not recorded. The calls taken in Canada are not under United States jurisdiction and therefore phone records from the phone company servicing the call center cannot be obtained by U.S. police departments. Anonymity is what the Crime Stoppers brand is all about and they make sure no one can learn the identity of their tipsters.

Tips can also be made via the Internet by accessing Crime Stoppers at their website: or by texting CSM then your tip to 274637 or CRIMES. Both of these methods are equipped with encryption that makes tracing the web tip or text tip impossible.

Crime Stoppers is the largest crime fighting organization in the world operating in 22 different countries. Crime Stoppers tipsters earn cash rewards of up to $2500 for information leading to arrests for homicide or $1000 for all other crimes. Sometimes Crime Stoppers will award larger rewards when the family or friends of a victim add money to the tip fund for their loved one’s case.

Crime Stoppers works by being a clearing house for tips from anonymous citizens and then sending the tips to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The law enforcement agency then investigates the tip and reports back to Crime Stoppers. If an arrest is made, a search warrant is obtained, a missing person or fugitive is located because of the Crime Stoppers tip a cash reward will be paid to the tipster. The amount of the tip is determined by a “Rewards Court” consisting of board members at Crime Stoppers. Reward amounts are based on a set of standards and the Rewards Court’s judgment. The tipster then calls Crime Stoppers to check the status of their tip using the tip number they were given.

If a reward is authorized the tipster is directed to a bank in their area where an envelope containing cash will be waiting for the tipster. The tipster does not even have to sign for reward money.

Not only do Crime Stoppers provide tips to the police, but it provides other valuable services to local law enforcement. Crime Stoppers will generate wanted posters and door hangers to alert neighbors that a criminal is in the area or the area is experiencing some sort of crime problem that the police need help in solving.

Crime Stoppers solicits police departments to provide information to disseminate to the public about unsolved crimes, crime trends and methods, wanted fugitives and missing persons. This information is then in turn placed on a weekly program showcasing crimes in the area.

This weekly program is played on several local cable channels as well as on the Crime Stoppers website. This program is also shown in all state prisons, many parole offices and county jails where prisoners can watch. Surprisingly a large number of tips are generated from these venues. Fox 2 News on Saturday nights also showcases three Crime Stoppers crimes for the public to view.

Crime Stoppers is a great program and a great way to keep our neighborhoods safe anonymously.

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors by calling Crime Stoppers if you have information about a serious crime.

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for He also serves as the Crime Stoppers coordinator for Washtenaw County.



Sat, Jun 18, 2011 : 12:16 p.m.

This program sounds fine and dandy however aren't the people eventually sought out to become witnesses under subpoena at a future date at times? Anonymity can go so far then it takes on a different name. Even rumours of snitching seem like trouble.


Fri, Jun 17, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

what those crime map of Ann Arbor look like? do have area with much higher crime then the rest a much lower? or?


Fri, Jun 17, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

This not personal attack to writer but to the mainstrem media: is the quote "Nobody saw nuthin'!" by any change a refrence to African American dialog ?


Fri, Jun 17, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

Crime Stoppers is an excellent community tool. You can stay anonymous or you can tell them who you are (which is how you can claim the reward if you're that greedy and only calling for the money). Thank you for this article! It's a great reminder that this tool is out there!

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Jun 17, 2011 : 2:13 a.m.

Gladys Kravitz will be cashing in

Bertha Venation

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

If it's totally anonymous, how do they know who gets the reward?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

"It is hard for law-abiding citizens to understand, but there are areas....where police officers are seen as intruders and the enemy. " As a law abiding citizen its not hard for me to understand. While I don't see the police as " intruders and the enemy. " I fully understand why many law-abiding citizens do. It might have something to do with spending large chunks of their law-abiding lives being treated as "suspects' because of how they look. ""Nobody saw nuthin'!" that really what "they" all agreed to say?

Berda Green

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

keep doing your a great job all of u love crime stoppers for life they help so many people


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

I think the city of Detroit, could really use this program. Ypsilanti, The Detroit of Washtenaw County could use it also. The biggest problem we have in Ann Arbor is with the city council members and crime stoppers cannot stop them, we have to vote them out!

John B.

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

Don't encourage him, grrrl.... ;-)

Bertha Venation

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

You've sure got THAT right, xmo!


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

While I agree this is a useful tool, I'll wager teaching citizens how to protect themselves and getting criminals to fear them instead of the reverse would be even more effective. Refuse to be a victim first and you'll have less need of such services.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

or at the very least allowed passengers to carry their pocket knives like I used to when I was a teen.


Sat, Jun 18, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

Yeah - 911 would have never happened if they had issued a handgun to all passengers on those flights instead of a bag of peanuts...


Fri, Jun 17, 2011 : 5:06 a.m.

As a proud owner of many guns, who would not hesitate to arm himself with any if the situation arises (never happened, but you never know) I feel much safer knowing that the bad guys have theirs, and I have mine, in order to never be caught defenseless. If more citizens were willing to protect themselves with their own in a scenario where the bad guys have lethal weapons also, we would have less criminals and more safety.


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

First, Right, because the Wild West was as you think it, not. Second, I did not say shoot, I said teach citizens how to defend themselves. You got something against making potential victims a harder target? Too much common sense?

John B.

Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

Yeah, let's just shoot everybody, and all act like it's the Wild, Wild West out there. Not.